Jimmy D’s all-Saukhockey.info varsity team

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Jimmy D’s Notes

A few years ago, I was talking with a coach who said he wished there was an all-area team based on an all-City varsity team put together by a Madison newspaper.  

I have wanted to do that but have been shy as it is completely opinion based and opens the door for criticism. This season in particular, the talent level is sky high on all four Sauk County varsity teams making it difficult to decide.  

I have decided to put my selections out there and I invite others to put their own list together. Points, leadership, and consistency were the prime consideration in putting this together but there are no formulas because, well, I hate math. 

I have four full lines of players and four goaltenders on the first three lines. I am picking a player of the year and future stars as well.  

Let the debate begin 

Jimmy D’s All-Saukhockey.info teams. 

First Line  

Forwards  

Nick Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – Mast’s inclusion on here is a slam dunk. He put up 43 goals and 68 points this season to wrap up a massive four season (regular season only) total of 101 goals and 194 points. He is the first player to put up a three-digit goal total and his 194 points leaves him second behind only the amazing 240 point run of Riley Jelinek. 

I attended a few pre-season Captain’s practices and Mast was a leader on the ice during those sessions as well as others and he is generous, working with youth players in town as well.  

CJ Pfaff (RWD Cheavers) — Pfaff has always made his presence felt with RWD, but this season he led by example from start to finish. The line of Pfaff/Slaght/Caden Brandt was one of the most potent trios in the RWD team’s history and might have been overshadowed slightly in a season that saw some amazng top lines in Sauk (Mast/Mast/Peterson), Oregon and Madison Edgewood. 

A constant scoring threat, Pfaff increased his value by being so effective in his own end and perhaps the best penalty killer in the conference. 

Luke Mast (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The lone non-senior on the first line, Luke Mast got the nod for me ahead of the other RWD players based on the playoff head-to-head meeting.  

Luke outpointed his brother this season by a point and was among the state leaders in assists with 47. Of course, it helps having a guy like his older brother pulling the trigger on a lot of those passes. Luke will be the obvious leader for the Eagles next season. 

Defense  

Hakon Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) – The Eagles showed in its playoff game in Reedsburg this season, it can hold on to a narrow lead through a period or more. Peterson was the defensive leader for this team and a key part of the offense, in particular on powerplays with 10 goals and 36 points.  

Grant Marsich (RWD Cheavers) — Like Peterson, Marsich was effective at both ends of the ice. A physical defender he played with a chip on his shoulder and enjoyed getting under the skin of opponents. He was on the ice in every situation for the Cheavers this season.  

This would be a nice defensive combo with Peterson and Marsich both bringing a hard-hitting physical presence and comfortable in any game situation. Perhaps, we will get a chance to see this combo later this month at the Senior’s tournament. 

Goaltender  

Cooper Oakes (RWD Cheavers) – A starting goaltender for the Cheavers since his first game as a first year, Oakes won 18 this season, giving him a total of 52 victories, more than double any player that has gone to the crease since RWD was formed. 

Able to put up a big game any time, Oakes’ biggest improvement this season was consistency. A critic would be hard pressed to produce a bad game for Oakes in goal in 2021-22.  

Second Line  

Forwards  

Erik Peterson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — A lanky, aggressive forward who can put the puck in the net , Peterson was the perfect fit with the Mast brothers. Coming off a 12-week run with Team Wisconsin that wrapped up on the eve of the WIAA regular season, Peterson was in mid-season form out of the gate and he contributed 16 goals and 38 points for the Eagles.  

Caden Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — Like Luke Mast in Sauk, Caden Brandt will inherit the reins of the RWD Cheavers in 2022-23 and he has been a key player on the squad since his sophomore season. He was among the scoring leaders as a sophomore and added 15 points to his totals with 26 goals and 46 points this past season. He has already put up 91 points in 67 varsity contests and he will be among the team’s best by the time he finishes his senior season.  

Kayla Capener (Badger Lightning) — A look at playoff results shows a Badger Lightning team making a first-round exit again. However, the team took a mighty step forward, closing in on the .500 mark with nine wins, matching its best season since 2015-16. Capener, named to the all-state squads as a sophomore, played a big part of that for the Lightning, collecting 16 goals and 38 points and becoming just the second player on the team to cross the 100-point plateau with her senior season yet to come. Her consistency was the most impressive part of her game. She collected points in 17 of the team’s 21 games, including a six-point game and two five-pointers. 

Defense  

Carsen Brandt (RWD Cheavers) — For a guy that wasn’t even supposed to play this season, Carsen Brandt, Caden’s twin brother couldn’t have made a bigger impression this season. Many were nervous about the RWD blue line heading into this season, but the emergence of Marsich combined with the stability and great 200-foot game of Brandt and the amazing play of Cooper Oakes in goal played a big part in the second in conference finish of the Cheavers in the opening season of Badger West action. He will be as important as his brother in 2022-23 and both will for sure be wearing letters on their jerseys. 

Carson Blosenski (Badger Lightning) — Small but growing numbers for the Badger Lightning put Blosenski in a unique and tough position of being a leader on this team as both a junior and senior. Despite a marked improvement in the offensive play, thanks in part to a player infusion that took the team from two to three lines this past season, the d-corps and goalie were kept busier than normal this season and Blosenski was up to the task.  

Goaltender  

Kaden Stracke (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — The fourth junior on the line, Stracke turned in another awesome season in goal for the Eagles. Stracke turned in 11 regular season wins and two more in the post season for the Eagles. Stracke edged out Brooks McInerney again this season, but McInerney was right there with five wins and both goaltenders picked up shutouts. As seniors, Stracke and McInerney will be relied on to backstop an Eagles that will be looking to replace a lot of goals from graduating players. 

Third Line  

Forwards 

Trevor Slaght (RWD Cheavers) — This might be an unpopular spot for Slaght, and it says here he deserves to be on one of the upper lines as well. The two factors that pushed him down a bit – both completely out of his control – are a late start due to acl injury and just a stellar cast this season on all four teams.  

While the injury prevented him from scoring a higher spot on this team it is also part of what made Slaght’s season so amazing. First, he returned weeks earlier than expected from the injury, a tribute to his hard work off ice and in 14 regular season games played, he put up 12 goals and 12 assists, turned, put the team’s top line on a new level and played a part in helping a 5-5 team to an 18-6 final regular season record. 

Oliver Scanlan (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Scanlan’s role might have been a little obscured on a team that not only featured a small number of seniors but saw some of them sidelined due to injury or illness for much of the campaign. 

Scanlan and senior linemate, Gabe Fitzwilliams scored 23 goals between them which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that’s nearly half of the Thunderbirds’ 49-goal total. Scanlan shared the team scoring lead, adding seven assists to his total. Playing on a young team subjected to the adversity this team faced couldn’t have been easy, but Scanlan showed up and gave his best all season. 

Signe Begalske (Badger Lightning) — Another player on the Badger Lightning who served two seasons as a ‘senior’ team member (the team had no seniors in 2020-21), Begalske enjoyed a big spike in scoring playing as a linemate with Kayla Capener. Begalske totaled 13 goals and 30 points, nearly doubling her 17 points from the previous campaign. Begalske showed a willingness to dig the puck out of corners for Capener or be the trigger-player herself with a rugged but clean game – Begalske sat just four minor penalties this season, one more than the previous year. 

Defense  

Ty Thompson (RWD Cheavers) — Thompson deserves a spot on this list as recognition of a solid role as a defensive defender for the Cheavers. He seldom hit the game sheet as an old school defensive defenseman, there are no stats that highlight the role he plays. Often partnered with a defender that likes to jump into the offensive play, Thompson looks after the house and often, rides a charging forward off the puck or at least gives them a low percentage outside opportunity.  

Carson Zick (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — Zick was another bright spot on a team that struggled due in part to injuries and illness and other adversity this past season, especially in the second half of the season when he became a game sheet regular.  

Zick, a sophomore, collected nine goals and 19 points to share the team lead and he will no doubt be a leader even as a junior for the Thunderbirds in 2022-23. 

Goaltender(s) 

Andrew Schaetzl (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds)/Alyssa Gada (Badger Thunder) — It’s impossible to separate Schaetzl and Gada who both played huge roles on teams that seldom held the margin on the shot clock. 

Schaetzl was another of the key seniors on a young Thunderbirds team. He faced an average of 37 shots per game and a 4.77 Goals Against Average and a .867 Save Percentage don’t tell the whole story of a player that was the last line of defense on a team that found it difficult to stop the attack.  

The team’s two biggest games were wins against the Monroe Cheesemakers to clinch fifth spot in the Badger West Conference. In those games, Schaetzl handled 61 of 66 shots to help lift his team to two of its four regular season victories.  

Gada, a sophomore was in a similar situation with the Badger Lightning. While the team showed a marked improvement this season, Gada was still accustomed to facing more shots that the opposing keeper.  

She appeared in 19.13 games for the Lightning and faced an average of about 30 shots per game. She notched seven of the team’s nine wins including a pair of goose eggs, tying her for second overall for the team with Gabby Christensen and Kelcie McElhenie. She might not approach the 11 clean sheets that Jamie Dutton put up as a Lightning tender, but Gada still has two more seasons to make her mark in the blue paint. 

Fourth Line  

Forwards  

Tomas Korndorfer (RWD Cheavers) – The Czech Republic exchange student was a huge surprise for the Cheavers, and he might have been the most dangerous player in the County this season inside of the opposition blue line. Almost all his goals were the highlight-reel type as he managed to often put it into the smallest openings. Korndorfer ripped 15 goals and 29 best, third best total on the team. With the arrival of Slaght near Christmas, Korndorfer combined with junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin to form a second high scoring line for RWD, a rarity in varsity hockey. 

Micah Hanson (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — In what will likely be the final season of competitive hockey for the Division 1 Lacrosse recruit (Canisius College), Hanson put up 13 goals and 19 points. A special teams regular, 10 of Hanson’s goals came on powerplays, along with four assists. He also picked up an assist while shorthanded. 

John Scott (RWD Cheavers)/Gabe Fitzwilliams (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds – This decision was just too tough. The role Fitzwilliams played as a senior on Baraboo/Portage can’t be overlooked, but Scott enjoyed a breakthrough season and set himself up as a player that will be relied on heavily next season.  

Fitzwilliams partnered with Oliver Scanlan to collect 18 points forming a dangerous combo on offense for a team that struggled to find the net. He came up big in big games, scoring five of his 12 goals in the four Thunderbird wins including the overtime game winner against Tomah/Sparta on the road in the T-Birds’ second game of the season.  

Scott was a deadly triggerman, scoring 14 goals and 19 points, most of his goals coming on one timers from the top of the crease. He benefited from having his billet brother (Korndorfer) on his line, scoring five goals at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic, shortly after the line was formed. In the first 11 games he scored twice, adding another dozen in the second half. Not shy about getting into the physical play, watch for Scott to be a heart and soul player for the Cheavers in his senior season. 

Defense. 

Logan DeMars (RWD Cheavers) — DeMars stepped up his play this past season and with the graduation of Marsich and Thompson, there will be big expectations from this lanky, physical defender who scored four goals and set up another half dozen this past season. DeMars, like Brandt, is a good 200-foot player, capable of carrying the puck and dish to potential goal scorers at the other end.  

Eryn Benson (Badger Lightning) — Another junior that will be stepping into a leadership role, Benson is blessed with a powerful shot from the blue line, which helped her rack up five goals and 14 points for the Lightning this past season. She has made her presence felt since she was a first year, but this season’s 14 points showed a marked improvement in that area. On a team that spent a lot of time in its own end, Benson teamed with Blosenski to form a solid combo, limiting opposition chances.  

Benson will be a key fixture on a Lightning team that will receive some valuable, but young additions in her senior season.  

Honorable Mention – Who to Watch 

Brady Baldwin (RWD Cheavers) — It’s hard to believe I couldn’t find a spot on these teams for this valuable player. In his first two seasons with RWD, Baldwin has put up 15 goals and another 15 assists and he was always on the ice with the game on the line. An agile and speedy skater he is equally comfortable as a setup man or a finisher.  

Other RWD players to watch – Iszak Elder, Yevgeny Dedun and Trey Lariden 

Luke Schweda (Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds) — A quick agile and physical player who has played both forward and defense, Schweda will be an anchor and a scoring threat for the Thunderbirds in his senior season). 

 Other Baraboo/Portage players to watch – Nathan Gneiser, Jordi Beale and Peyton Sloan. 

Gunnar Nachreiner (Sauk Prairie Eagles) — Only in the lineup for 15 games this season, First year Nachreiner put up four goals and 12 points to finish sixth in team scoring. He is a good bet to be on one of the top lines in 2022-23 and beyond. 

Other Sauk Prairie Eagles players to watch – Karsyn Banta, Ethan Tranel, Thor Peterson. 

Bella Bowden/Mallory Ruland (Badger Lightning) — Limited to just a half dozen games and one goal this season, Bowden was one of the conference’s fastest skaters as a sophomore. In a perfect world, Bowden comes back for her senior season with something to prove and wreaks havoc on the Badger Conference.  

Ruland also saw her points total dip a bit this past season playing on a different line. A potent sniper she found the net eight times though, which is one more than the previous season. As a senior leader she could combine with Bowden along with Capener and Reese Olson, who enjoyed a massive first season with nine goals and 19 points along with a host of younger and incoming players that will make the team bigger offensive threat. 

Other Badger Lightning players to watch – Reese Olson, Lily McPherson, Kayla Garbacz. 

Player of the Year – Cooper Oakes  

This was an easier choice than I expected. That’s not to say there aren’t a host of candidates from all four teams. 

What most fans saw was a goaltender that has had fans chanting his name since he played youth hockey add consistency to all the great attributes he had between the pipes. When the team got off to a slow start in the early games, it was the work of Oakes in the blue paint that kept games close. In previous seasons, his skills were on view in many games but there were games when the entire team, including Oakes were not on their game. He would be the first to agree with that assessment too. 

This past season though, I am hard pressed to point to any games when the puck stopper wasn’t in perfect form. 

What fans might not have seen – this was Oakes’ team this season. As a senior, he took the leadership role seriously, doing all he could to lead by example and not shy about playing bad cop when he thought it was necessary. If he didn’t think players were focused or pulling their weight, he was fine with letting them know. What made it ok was he didn’t expect any more out of his teammates than he expected out of himself. 

Oakes is a three-sport athlete. He will move on to varsity baseball almost immediately, but his game is hockey. He will be playing junior hockey somewhere this fall and the team that lands him is lucky. 

Schweda makes it difficult, but JV Cheavers prevail

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers made the trip to Pierce Park Pavilion in Baraboo Monday, rallying back from an early deficit for a 3-1 win in the penultimate game of the regular season. 

Burke Schweda in goal for the Thunderbirds was unbeatable through the first half of the contest, allowing a goal by junior Kyle Buelow in the first period to stand up as the lone goal in the contest until a 200-foot rush by sophomore Iszak Elder pulled the Cheavers even 88 seconds from the end of the second period.  

First year Nathan Gneiser picked up an assist on Buelow’s goal, the only shot to elude Mark Othmer, taking his turn as the goaltender for the night in the Cheavers’ cage. Elder’s was a solo effort. 

Junior Conner Putz put RWD in front for the first and only time with the game winner 3:35 into the final period from junior Nate Stando and first year Carter Renneberg.  

A solo effort from Kaden Uminski about five minutes later added some insurance for RWD won took the win and continued a string of wins that goes back to its first meeting with Madison Edgewood Crusaders on Dec. 3.  

The Cheavers will wrap up its junior varsity season on Tuesday (Feb. 8) against the Janesville Bluebirds at Lake Delton Ice Arena.  

Big win for Cheavers’ seniors in RACA finale

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

Just 48 hours after seeing its nine-game winning streak come to an end, the RWD varsity Cheavers started another with an 11-1 whipping of the visiting Monroe Cheavers on an emotional final night at the Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA). 

The final night on the schedule saw senior goaltender Cooper Oakes kicking out 13 of 14 Monroe shots and laying claim to the prestigious ‘Team Tracy’ Tracy Jones Plaque (see related story) in a brief ceremony between the first and second periods. 

A 4-2 loss at La Bahn Ice Arena in Madison snapped a nine-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 14 but if there was a pity party, it sure wasn’t evident a RACA Thursday as the home team went to work with three goals in the final seven minutes of the opening period and never looked back.  

The Cheavers carried a 7-1 cushion into the final period and piled on another four down the stretch.  

The team’s leading scorer, senior Clayton Pfaff enjoyed another big offensive night with two goals and three assists while linemates; senior Trevor Slaght added four goals and junior Caden Brandt collected three assists.  

Senior Tomas Korndorfer fired his second hat trick in three games to pace, junior John Scott and sophomore Brady Baldwin both chipping in a goal and assist as the team’s primary two lines both continue to stay hot. 

The d-corps got involved as well, senior Grant Marsich, junior Logan De Mars and sophomore Iszak Elder each picking up an assist in the contest.  

The Cheavers held a 36-14 edge in shots.  

The win boosted the team’s overall record to 14-6 with four games yet to play. The team will hit the road for its next three, it’s final conference test at Sauk Prairie against the host Eagles Feb. 1, followed by the team’s second weekend trip to the northern part of the state this season, playing Hayward Hurricanes and Ashland Oredockers Feb. 4-5. 

The team will wrap up its regular season at Lake Delton Ice Arena honoring its seniors for a second time Feb. 8 against the Janesville Bluebirds. 

The team’s seniors were playing on home ice at RACA, the primary home base for the squad for the final time in regular season play. The team’s 14-6 record to date though should guarantee at least one more chance to play in RACA rink in the post season. 

Barney notches shorty equalizer for JV Cheavers

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD Cheavers junior varsity squad extended its unbeaten streak to nine games thanks in part to a shorthanded breakaway effort and a stand in between the pipes.

The Cheavers collected a 5-5 draw with the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, the tying at La Bahn Arena in Madison, boosting its current streak to nine games without a loss and its overall record to 11-2-2. The last loss for the JV Cheavers came on Dec. 3, 2021 at RACA against the same Edgewood Crusaders. 

Alex Griebe who played a huge part in the team’s latest string with an unreal 17-plus shutout period stretch in goal is likely lost for the remainder of the season due to illness, but this team is accustomed to adversity. 

The goaltending spot will see a revolving door of ‘skaters’ filling in over the remainder of the season and the first to don the pads was senior Malachi Stompolis-Salama who took to the role with a 24-save effort to keep it close.  

The Cheavers battled back from 4-1 and 5-4 deficits, the tying goal coming on a shorthanded breakaway goal scored by first-year Tye Barney with just under two minutes to play. 

The Cheavers started slow, but Strompolis-Salama kept the team in it, stopping all but one of nine shots faced in the opening 17-minutes, dominated on the shot clock by a 9-0 margin by the home team. 

The Crusaders fired two more early in the middle period before Iszak Elder got the visitors on the board with an unassisted marker. The middle period ended with the hosts up 3-1 but Elder fired a second unassisted goal early in the third to get RWD with one. 

Crusaders added another 7:08 into the period but Cheavers replied a little over two minutes later as Kaden Uminski converted a pass from Tristan Edgerton and Caleb Eastman tied it a short time later, also from Edgerton. 

The Crusaders moved in front again 33 seconds later, setting stage for Barney’s shorty. 

The Cheavers did not play against the Monroe Cheesemakers on Thursday night, but will be back in action at a DeForest Norskie’s hosted tournament at Lake Delton Ice Arena Jan. 27-29. 

Korndorfer hatty leads Cheavers past Norskies

By Jim den Hollander 

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD varsity Cheavers renewed acquaintances with a former conference rival and collected of of five Badger West Conference wins on the day at the Badger Challenge at the Waunakee Ice Ponds Saturday. 

A 9-2 win against former Badger North partner, the DeForest Norskies also helped the RWD crew extend its current winning streak to nine games. 

Despite a 13-5 edge in shots through the opening 17-minutes, the Cheavers appeared on its way to a scoreless opening frame, but two goals in the final 84 seconds of the period opened the floodgates. 

Another pai in the opening 4:15 of the second had RWD comfortably in control before the Norskies notched its first about 90 seconds later  

The Norskies moved to within a pair 51 seconds into the third, but the Cheavers responded 11 seconds later and slammed the door with three more before the period was five minutes old. 

Senior Tomas Korndorfer enjoyed his best game as a Cheaver, firing three goals and adding an assist, giving him nine goals and 20 points on the season so far. 

Senior Trevor Slaght notched two more goals and senior defender Ty Thompson, known primarily for his solid defensive play, struck or his second goal in two games, adding an assist as well. Senior forward C, J. Pfaff continued his hot streak with a goal and two helpers, junior twins Caden and Carsen Brandt firing the other goals, Caden also with a set up. 

Juniors Logan DeMars and John Scott along with sophomore Iszak Elder each collected an assist

Senior goaltender Cooper Oakes stopped 23 of 25 for the win in goal and the Cheavers went past the 50-shot mark for the first time this season, outshooting the Norskies 52-25. 

The win boosted the Cheavers’ overall record to 13-5 and they will put its winning streak to the test in its next game, travelling to LaBahn Arena in Madison to take on the Edgewood Crusaders (9-3, 4-0 Badger West). The Cheavers dropped a 4-1 decision on home ice against the Crusaders on Dec. 3) and need this win to keep Badger West Conference championship hopes alive. 

Next home game will be on Thursday, the final Badger West Conference home game against the Monroe Cheesemakers. 

Griebe unbeatable in JV Cheaver goal

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD junior varsity Cheavers stayed hot in recent games, collecting a 3-0 shutout win against the Baldwin-Woodville Hawks at Reedsburg Area Community Arena (RACA) Saturday (Dec. 11) afternoon and he needed just three days to add his second goose egg with another 3-0 win at Oregon Tuesday night. 

The last goal allowed by Griebe was scored by Monroe with 11:12 to play and he has 101:12 of clear crease since then.

Shutouts are a shared stat though. The JV defense corps and forwards deserve credit as well, limiting Woodville to just seven shots, but the Panthers peppered Griebe with 32 shots and outscored the locals 32-14 in the contest. 

Offensively against Baldwin, Caleb Eastman scored the game winner 5:04 into the contest and that held up all the way to the third period when Eastman added another and Nate Stando added insurance just 17 seconds later.  

Mark Othmer and Kaden Uminski collected assists on the Eastman goal in the third and Carter Renneberg had the set up on Stando’s tally. 

In Oregon, RWD fired one goal in each period, Malachi Strombolis-Salama with the opener and closer and Gus DeFosse notched the middle marker. Iszak Elder, Stando, Nolan Pope and Tristan Edgerton picked up assists in the game.  

The wins pushed the JV squad to 8-2 so far this season and extended the current winning streak to four games.

The JV Chiefs will be back in action Friday on home ice against the Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

Brandt comes up big for Cheavers against Hilltoppers

By Jim den Hollander  

Editor/Publisher 

Saukhockey.info 

The RWD (Reedsburg/Wisconsin Dells/Mauston) Cheavers played its first game on home ice Tuesday but packed a season’s worth of highs/lows and excitement into a 5-4 overtime win against the visiting Onalaska Hilltoppers.  

The win was the second straight for the Cheavers and boosted the record to 2-2 on the season after a couple tough one-goal losses to open the season. 

It took some grit and determination to grab this on as, despite a 58-39 edge in shots, some unlucky bounces around their own crease forced the team to battle back from one-goal deficits three times, the last one with 94 seconds to play sending the game to overtime.  

Junior Caden Brandt was to go-to guy on offense, and he stepped up with that tying goal as well as the overtime game winner for the Cheavers.  

The tying goal came on a perfectly executed give-and-go play Brandt to senior CJ Pfaff and back to Brandt giving him some space in the neutral zone. He split the defense to get in alone and deposited the puck into cage with time winding down on a five-minute man advantage for the home team. Junior Logan Demars also collected an assist on the play.  

The overtime game winner came after a behind the net pass from sophomore Brady Baldwin to Brandt at the top of the crease and Pfaff had the other assist on that one as well. Baldwin also set up Brandt on the goal that tied the game at 3-3 and the first two RWD goals came from Pfaff with a set up for Brandt and Mitchell Henke with help from Iszak Elder. 

Junior Colin Comeau fired the first two Hilltoppers’ goals with single assists for senior Quinn Anderson and junior Gavin Schuster. Later Schuster put the Hilltoppers up 3-2 from Comeau and senior Peyton Jones and sophomore Thomas Bryant fired the fourth goal unassisted.  

It didn’t show up on the game sheet, but goaltenders Cooper Oakes from RWD and Abraham Finch of the Hilltoppers, both seniors, came up with some big stops in the contest. 

The win was a massive one for RWD who have only played the Hilltoppers in regular season play three times, all losses in the team’s history. 

Along with the game’s highs and lows, an emotional tribute to original RWD team member Alex Yacko between the first and second period. Yacko, who scored some huge goals for the RWD program, passed away suddenly shortly before the start of the season. His parents and siblings were all on hand for the brief ceremony and stayed to cheer the Cheavers on to the win.

Members of the RWD varsity hockey team joined the parents of Alex Yacko on the ice for an emotional tribute and moment’s silence for an original member of the RWD team, Alex Yacko.

The Cheavers move on to its first Badger West Conference game Friday playing host to the Madison Edgewood Crusaders and the 0-2 Hilltoppers will get a week to prepare for its first contest on home ice, although as the visiting team against the Avalanche who share the Omni Center in Onalaska, on Dec. 7. 

Cyclones and Flyers bantams battle to a draw at RACA

The Bantam A South Central Cyclones saw all three results on the weekend, beginning with a win and loss and wrapping up with a draw.

The bantams travelled to Hartmeyer Ice Arena in Madison Saturday for a pair of games against the Patriots bantam squad.

In the first game, Burke Schweda turned in a 35-save shutout effort to make a single unassisted goal from Brady Baldwin stand up as the game winner in a 1-0 win.

In the return match later Saturday, the bantam squad was on the opposite end of a shutout, coming up short in a 3-0 win in the return match.

Sunday the bantams returned home and came up with an impressive match against the state bound Sauk Prairie bantam Flyers, a team that includes several players from last season’s state championship peewee Flyers team.

Teams were even at 1-1 after a period, Iszak Elder notching the Cyclones’ goal and Samson Begalske converting a feed from Karsyn Banta for the Flyers.

In the middle period, the hosts opened a 3-2 edge with a pair of goals from Dyllan Carpenter, the first unassisted on a powerplay and the other on a feed from Elder. Audrey Hanko responded with the lone Flyers’ goal unassisted.

The Begalske-Banta tandem hooked up once again in the final period to even the score for the Flyers.

Schweda turned in a 36-save effort for the Cyclones and William Anderson kicked out 20 for the Flyers.

Both teams will get a rare weekend off coming and be back in action the following weekend.

Backeberg’s buzzer beater lifts Squirt B Cyclones to state berth

James Bond would have been proud.

The Squirts Cyclones posed for a quick picture after its Regional Semi-final win against Oregon Saturday amid their locker room celebration.

Noah Backeberg sank the clinching goal for the South Central Squirt B Cyclones with 007 (seven seconds) to play in the contest, not only lifting the Cyclones into the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) Region 4 Squirt 2B championship match with the 2-1 win against Oregon but clinching a spot at the State Championship tournament.

Coach Justin Messer’s Squirt ‘B’ squad dropped a 5-0 decision I the championship game but were granted a spot at the dance as a Region 1 Representative as that northern Wisconsin group did not have a team at that level.

Matthew Stando collected an assist on the Backeberg goal and is was his twin brother Andrew Stando getting the Cyclones on the board with the opening goal, 6:29 from the end of the second period. Oregon tied the game about four minutes later.

Cyclone goaltender Jesse Arnold turned aside all but one of the 18 shots he faced to backstop the win.

The Squirt B’s were the only team of the eight SCC Cyclones to play in a championship game and despite a 5-0 loss to Janesville Bluebirds in the championship game, the Division 4 Runners Up will move on as a Division 1 representative – the Northern Region not having a team at the Squirt 2B level this season.

The Cyclones will open play at the eight-team state tournament against Elmbrook Falcons at 11:30 a.m. and could get another shot at Janesville in the next round depending on how both teams fare in their respective openers.

The other two SCC squirt entries faced some tough competition but the Squirt A squad put up a good battle against the Oregon Panthers before falling 5-3. The Panthers advanced to the Regional final, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Bluebirds.

The Squirt C team, made up primarily of younger players that will benefit from a year’s experience as second year squirts next season, dropped a tough decision to McFarland Friday night.

U-12 Badger Lightning

The U-12 Badger Lightning did not have to qualify and as host of the U-12 B State Championship tournament (See story — Lightning and Monkeys hosting State Tournaments).

Peewees

The Peewee A team was in a tough pool, facing the Bluebirds in its Regional semi-final on Saturday night, coming up short in a shutout loss. McFarland will go on to represent the Region at the State tournament in Elmbrook March 14-15.

The Peewee B side also ran into some tough competition and gave up a shutout decision on Saturday as well. There is some consolation as they fell to the Panthers who went on to claim the Region championship and will likely be one of the top contenders at the 2B State Championship at Eagle River March 14-15.

Bantams

The Bantam Cyclones faced a tough challenge heading in against Janesville Saturday afternoon at Verona. Head Coach Billy Oakes said the team gained some momentum reaching the championship game at a tournament the week previous, but the mountain became a little steeper as goaltender Burke Schweda was battling illness as well as slapshots in the contest.

“We got off to a rough start, “said Oakes. “They scored three quick goals.” The Coach said he called time out to discuss things and the team played a defensive trap which worked well the rest of the way. “They never scored another goal. Schweda turned in a 22-save effort and was unbeatable in the final two periods.

But, while the defense was sound, the Cyclones were unable to climb all the way back on the score sheet. Mark Othmer and Iszak Elder both notched goals, Tye Barney picking up an assist, but the Cyclones fell one shot of reaching the Regional championship game.

Janesville in turn fell a goal shy in the Championship game, falling 7-6 in a wild one to Oregon who will represent the Region at the State 2A Championship tournament at Hayward.

The Bantam ‘B’ squad was eliminated in a shutout loss to Janesville Saturday afternoon at Oregon and Janesville went on to claim one of two Regional spots for the state tournament. Both Janesville and Oregon will be at the tournament at Sheboygan March 7-8.

U-14 Badger Lightning

The Badger Lightning squad faced the Maverick ‘A’ squad in its Regional semi at McFarland Saturday night, falling in a shutout defeat.

The Maverick squad went on to defeat the Jr. Fury in the championship game and will represent the Region at the state Tournament to be played at West Salem March 7-8.